3rd Bear Hunting Season in Nevada Underway - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

3rd Bear Hunting Season in Nevada Underway

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Nevada's third bear hunting season began on Sunday, and once again, it's being met with some controversy.

Nevada Wildlife Commissioners approved the state's first bear hunt in 2010, and since then, groups like No Bear Hunt NV have been fighting with the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) to end the practice.

After looking at research done by NDOW, Commissioners set a quota of 20 black bears that can be killed during the season.

"The answer was, biologically, you can sustain a bear hunt on a population based on 400-700 animals," said Chris Healy, Public Information Officer for NDOW. "Scientifically, we can prove we can harvest "X" amount of animals and not do damage to the population."

However, No Bear Hunt NV, who says they are not completely against hunting, believes the population levels of the black bear are still too low in the state to support, even a limited hunt.

"No matter whose numbers you use, whether it's NDOW's or whoever, we're concerned that there's only a few bears in the entire state of Nevada," said Lloyd Peake, Board Member for No Bear Hunt NV.

Healy says the research NDOW has done shows the bear population has grown over the years.

"We can let them know that we practice safe scientific practices that will keep the population at a healthy rate, and actually increasing at the point of 16 percent per year," he said.

Once the season ends on December 31st, Wildlife Commissioners say they will do a thorough review of the bear hunt, one of the topics is whether or not to approve a rule for the future that requires hunters to use the meat of bears killed.

"How in the world would NDOW enforce such a rule?" Peake asked. "Whether it's consumed or not, I think most folks that live in this area will tell you that hunting black bears is primarily to obtain trophies."

NDOW says Commissioners have been taking some of the concerns of the public. They say hunting is restricted inside the Lake Tahoe Basin, along with the key hiking trails of the Mount Rose Summit.

"That adjustment was made after the 2011 hunt in order to try to let people know that their voices were being heard," Healy said.

He says most of the bears that have been harvested the past few years were in an area southeast of the Gardnerville area. 

"Of all the bears that have been taken, most of them had been taken there, and they're bears we haven't touched before," Healy said. "So, that means they don't have an ear tag, or a tattoo on their lip. That also means that if we haven't touched them yet, the population is healthy, and it's one that could sustain a hunt, and that's the opinion of our biologist."

No Bear Hunt NV says even if they believe the population would be okay for a hunt, they say those who hunt the bears for sport will keep them opposed to the practice.

"Given that the numbers and the fact that it's basically a trophy hunt, we remain opposed to hunting black bears in the state of Nevada," Peake said.

NDOW says opponents of bear hunting have the opportunity to go county game boards and eventually to the Wildlife Commission to voice their concerns.

"Just because they may not get their way, or haven't gotten their way in the past, doesn't mean they could not get their way in the future," Healy said. "The bottom line is, there is a process for the people to be listened to."

Written by Adam Varahachaikol

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